Within this line, a novel collaborative robotic system that subsumes the advantages of mobile manipulators and supernumerary limbs has been proposed. By exploiting the reconfiguration potential of a MObile Collaborative robot Assistant (MOCA), we created a collaborative robot that can function autonomously, near humans, or be physically coupled to the human counterpart as a supernumerary body (MOCA-MAN). Through an admittance interface and a hand gesture recognition system, the controller can give higher priority to the mobile base (e.g., for long distance co-carrying tasks) or the arm movements (e.g., for manipulating tools), when performing conjoined actions. The resulting system has a high potential not only to reduce waste associated with the equipment waiting and setup times, but also to mitigate the human effort when performing heavy or prolonged manipulation tasks. Building on the MOCA-MAN concept, a user–centred physical interface for industrial manufacturing and logistics applications is presented. The new interface presents the following additions w.r.t. our previous work: i) A simplistic, industrial-like design that allows the worker to couple/decouple easily and to operate mobile manipulators locally; ii) Enhanced loco-manipulation capabilities that do not compromise the worker mobility.
A. Ciullo, F. Felici, M. Catalano, G. Grioli, A. Ajoudani, and A. Bicchi "Analytical and Experimental Analysis for Position Optimization of a Grasp Assistance Supernumerary Robotic Hand", IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA-L), 2018. Paper
W. Kim, P. Balatti, E. Lamon, and A. Ajoudani, “MOCA-MAN: A MObile and reconfigurable Collaborative Robot Assistant for conjoined huMAN-robot actions”, in IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2020. Paper - Video
J.M. Gandarias, P. Balatti, E. Lamon, M. Lorenzini, A. Ajoudani, “A User-Centered Interface for Enhanced Conjoined Human-Robot Actions in Industrial Tasks”, in IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2022. Paper - Video